As our world continues to be guided by both the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic and the movement for racial justice, the guiding principles that are driving Outward Bound California remain and have adapted to reflect our persistent commitment to equity.
It is our goal to:
Prioritize the physical and emotional safety of our students and staff first and foremost.
Remain transparent with our community and stakeholders about the impact of the Coronavirus on programming,
Continue to move forward in evaluating inequitable systems and dominant culture in our organization for our staff and students of color and other non-dominant identities.
Monitor OBCA’s available funds throughout this crisis to ensure we are prepared and ready to serve our communities when it is safe to do so.
Minimize the impact of the pandemic on staff as much as possible.
2020 Expedition Program Update
We have made the difficult decision to cancel summer and fall expedition programs in the High Sierra, as well as our winter programs in Joshua Tree. Program and Administrative staff have worked tirelessly since March to determine the safest way forward, emotionally and physically, for our staff and students. At the time this decision was made, rising positive case counts, delays in testing throughout the state, and diminished medical care capacity in regions we typically run programs made it clear that it would be irresponsible for OBCA to put students and staff into the field. A tremendous amount of time and dedication was spent toward resuming programs over the last few months. We are grateful to our incredible team and will deeply miss our students.
Although our multi-day expeditions have been canceled, we are currently booking one-day Teambuilding programs at your location. For more information, contact Eli Fox at [email protected]
What's Up Next
We are looking ahead to innovative programs that address the devastating impact of school closures on social and emotional learning for our most vulnerable populations and support teachers as they navigate this new era. The priorities we will focus on this fall include:
Support students on our Challenge Course - the Challenge Course, recently completed in John McLaren Park in San Francisco, is a huge step towards deeper and more impactful programming for students in SFUSD District 10 and beyond. Join our Resilience Campaign to support students attending ropes course programming.
Program Partnerships - working with school districts, outdoor education collaboratives, and community partners - we look to leverage our outdoor spaces and powerful curriculum to meet the needs of students learning remotely this fall.
Financial Sustainability - OBCA isn't going anywhere and we need to ensure we are set up for long-term stability, retain our world-class staff, and continue to provide access for students across identities through gear borrowing, scholarships, and intentional programming.
Strategic Planning for 2021 - centering equity and racial justice in our organizational mission, vision, and programmatic plans next year and beyond.
We invite you to join us in this work. Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on social media, refer a friend to our Board, or give to our Resilience Campaign that will sustain us through the crisis while laying the groundwork for lasting organizational change and impact.If you’re interested in enrolling on a course in 2021, visit our programs page for more information on available programs.
Message from 5/4/20
To our community of students, partners, staff, supporters, and families,
The depth of change in our world over the last few weeks cannot be understated. Thank you to those on the frontlines, fighting for the health of our communities. Like so many others, Outward Bound California is experiencing hardship unlike any we have weathered before.
Outward Bound exists to bring people together, build connection, to facilitate growth through challenge. Our programs have prepared our alumni and staff to lead with compassion in crisis and we can’t wait to get back to this needed work. While the length of this expedition is unknown, we are leaning into the wind, prepared to weather the storm.
OBCA’s Senior Leadership Team and Board of Directors have identified the below priorities to help guide us during this time.
Here are a few actions we have taken using these guiding priorities:
For the community:
We are talking to our staff and students about the threat of xenophobia in the context of COVID-19. OBCA stands against misinformation and bias that results in discriminatory and harmful behavior. We ask our community to be vocal and vigilant as it arises.
Outward Bound USA has convened a national task force to manage our response and mitigate exposure risk for staff and students, as well as coordinate our part in reducing community spread. See our general updates here.
We continually discuss the financial implications of this pandemic and create contingency plans to support business continuity in 2020. It is our priority to continue to change lives through challenge and discovery and to open access to outdoor spaces to youth, adults, and veterans.
For our students & partners:
For students enrolling in 2020 courses, we have softened our cancellation policy to align with domestic and international response to Covid-19. We will offer course credit toward 2021 programming for those who are prevented from attending their course due to COVID-19-related illness or externally-imposed travel restrictions. For more information, please visit our FAQs.
All students and staff were removed from programs by March 21st. At this time, all programming has been halted through June 30th as we continue to assess the public health situation.
We are in daily communication with schools or partners scheduled to have courses in the coming months, many of whom have canceled due to school closures. We are rescheduling where possible and have adjusted our cancellation policy to support last-minute shifts.
For our staff:
We are currently practicing an organization-wide remote work policy until further notice, in line with Shelter-in-Place orders issued by local and state governments.
As a result of receiving funds through the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP), the administrative staff at OBCA has returned to full staffing capacity for the duration of the PPP funding.
We continue to provide those in staff housing with rent forgiveness. Other relief needs to support our staff are currently being assessed.
We are committed to keeping our community of alumni, parents, supporters, and partners, engaged in this process. When we emerge from this crisis with the support of our community, we will be ready to serve a weary populace that hungers for connection and healing outside. Take care of yourselves, your families, and loved ones. Please say thank you to all the healthcare and service workers around you and treat all beings with compassion, above all else.
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